With Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” pumping up the crowd, a group of runners and walkers, young and old, prepare to burst across the starting line in a down-and-back race along the Mon River.
Some are dressed up for the occasion: One runner has donned a big, black, fluffy wig; a family wears matching orange and black shirts. Others are dressed for comfort and high-performance.
The group is off and running now, heading past the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater, waving at those cheering them on.
It’s not too long on the down-and-back before the lead runner pulls away, steadily pounding his feet on the pavement until he crosses through the cobweb finish line, closing his eyes and putting his hands up in victory. He’s earned the first-place finish … and his mummy medal.
He’s followed quickly by the rest of the group, runners and walkers alike, as they all make their way through the finish line and receive their times and medals as well.
This was the scene at last year’s Spooky Sprint 5K Run/Walk, a fundraiser for the United Way of Mon and Preston Counties organized by the affinity group, Emerging Leaders.
Sponsored by WVU Medicine, the race is on again this year and is set for Oct. 30 at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater in Morgantown. Registration is available now at www.unitedwaympc.org/spookysprint.
For $50, participants will receive a race T-shirt featuring the Spooky Sprint mummy, a race bib with their personal number, and a Frankenstein medal celebrating their participation, as well as entrance to the timed race. To guarantee your Spooky Sprint shirt and size, preregistration must be complete by Oct. 14.
Check-in and registration start at 12:30 p.m. the day of the race, with the 5K run/walk beginning at 2 p.m.
Curbside Concoctions food truck will be at the amphitheater with food and drinks available for the runners, walkers and their supporters to purchase.
“We’re excited to bring this Halloween-themed event back again this year,” said Servando Arredondo, engagement manager for the local United Way. “Our very first race had to be a virtual one because of the pandemic. But last year, we were able to have it in-person, and it was so much fun to see the crowd and how excited they were to participate. We’re hoping to have an even bigger group this year, perhaps with some folks decked out in costumes. Who knows what spooky characters might show up that day?”
This will be the Spooky Sprint’s third annual 5K. Proceeds from the race go toward the 2023 United Way Campaign. Money raised during that campaign stays in Monongalia and Preston counties, providing support to 36 programs at 27 agencies in the community, as well as internal United Way programs, such as Helpful Harvest Food Program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and WV211 health and human service hotline.
While there is no virtual component to this year’s race, only the in-person 5K, participants are still encouraged to post photos from their run/walk using the hashtag #ELSpookySprint to the United Way of Mon and Preston Counties social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram (@unitedwaympc).
To learn more about the race or to preregister, visit www.unitedwaympc.org/spookysprint. Volunteers will also be needed the day of the event. For volunteering information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMANDA POSEY is the director of marketing and communications for the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties. She can be reached at email@example.com.